James Shields signs with the Miami Marlins. For some, it was a bold prediction. For others, it was a natural one considering the Marlins are in 'win now' mode. Shields has yet to sign, and, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden, Miami is still in on Shields at the right price.
Although the Marlins have been linked to Shields throughout the course of the offseason, Bowden's comments are notable because of a weekend report which suggested there was a "zero percent" chance the Marlins added Shields.
Shields, 33, continues to make sense for the Marlins considering their starting pitching situation. It is still unclear if Dan Haren will report to Jupiter or if he will be dealt, and Miami is seeking a consistent arm until Jose Fernandez returns in June or July. Fernandez will not be rushed, and the Marlins have rightfully sought a front of the rotation arm for that reason. Mat Latos should prove to be just that, but the uncertainty regarding Haren has led the organization to examine its pitching depth.
The fact that the Marlins are still interested in Shields is notable considering what he would likely cost. He reportedly has a five-year, $100 million offer, but is seeking more. It is unlikely the Marlins would make an offer close to that. But they may not have to, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes the longer Shields waits, the smaller proposed deals will become.
Shields, 33, either never received such a proposal or did not want to sign with the team that offered it. Some execs now believe he is headed for a four-year deal, perhaps in the $70 million-$80 million range.
Miami may be willing to backload a deal, as it did with Giancarlo Stanton's extensive contract. A four-year, $70 million deal could become realistic if it is worth less than half of that over the first two years. In that instance, even more pressure is put on the Marlins to win starting in 2015.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wrote the Marlins are waiting for the price to drop, which is likely the proper approach. If the price does indeed drop, though, more teams may become involved. Ultimately, Shields would be a notable upgrade to add to the rotation. But he will likely end up with a larger market team, with the Marlins relying on Brad Hand and David Phelps for depth.